Endive, Escarole and Raddicio (and dandelion!) are members of the Chicorium family, which includes the blue flowering wild chicory plant often spotted along roadsides during the summer months. Chicory was cultivated in Egypt 5,000 years ago. Modern cultivated varieties like endive, escarole and radicchio are prevalent in European, especially Italian cuisine and are commonly eaten in salads or cooked as greens.
Good For You
Like most dark leafy greens, escarole is jam packed full of vitamin A and K. A one cup serving of chicory, in fact, provides almost all of the RDA of both of these vitamins! Escarole is also high in vitamin C and is a good source of folate – both of which are thought to support immune and neurological system health. Escarole has a fair amount of calcium and iron and provides a healthy dose of antioxidants. Finally, one head of escarole contains about 16 grams of dietary fiber – and tastes way better than a glass of fiber supplement powder, that’s for certain.
Chicories are a cool weather crop so we should enjoy the harvest while we can! Young chicory can be eaten just as regular salad green – it has a bitter, nutty flavor. Try pairing the escarole with sweeter salad ingredients such as walnuts, pears and dried cranberries. Dressing the salad with a warm shallot vinaigrette makes for an impressive salad!
Traditionally, and as is with the Italian style, escarole is braised – a technique where the vegetable is quickly sautéed in a hot skillet (perhaps with a bit of garlic just at the end?) and then finished in some sort of broth. It can be served with, or without, meat and pairs wonderfully with other vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and other root vegetables.
Try grilling, sauteing, braising or steaming your chicories.